A Realtor’s Guide To Developing A DIY Public Relations Strategy
In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, Realtor.com and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.
If you asked someone outside the real estate industry to name some of the most prominent agents they’ve heard of, they’d probably jokingly say you, and then more seriously answer by naming someone they’ve seen on television.
That’s because when they see an agent on TV, whether it’s on local or national news or even one of the many real estate-themed reality TV shows, they assume that person is more qualified and more successful than other agents. That, unsurprisingly, often leads to more business for that agent — especially if they leverage it effectively.
Getting featured in the media — whether TV, digital or print, can be an absolute game changer because, in addition to creating exposure, it also helps you become a recognized authority in your market. And when you’re seen as a recognized authority in your market, people will specifically seek you out, whether it’s to list their home, find them a new home or collaborate in some way.
It also allows you to be more selective in who you work with and even to attract more opportunities. Essentially, it’s like playing a video game in cheat mode.
With all of the benefits that come with this, you might believe, as many do, that the media only wants to feature the biggest players in any particular industry. You might assume they would rather cite the top producer in your market — that agent with the million-dollar smile who has their face on seemingly every billboard in town. But that’s not necessarily true.
People who work in the media need to produce great content that educates and engages their audience. That often requires them to cite expert sources who can share a unique perspective and specialized knowledge.
That means you.
So how do you get featured?
There are two ways — you can either hire a publicist or you can do it yourself.
In this article, I’m going to focus on the DIY approach for our readers who aren’t ready to hire a PR firm yet, and it will outline the same strategies and tactics we use in my own agency for our clients every day.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: It’s going to take a lot of work, and it will almost certainly take longer than you’d like, but it’s absolutely worth your time, and doable if you follow our blueprint.
Build your media list
You could invest a bunch of money in expensive PR tools that enable you to find contact info for virtually every journalist out there, but you really don’t need to.
Most Realtors will only need a small handful of media contacts—primarily local journalists, editors at trade publications, and maybe a few journalists at national media outlets.
The good news is it’s relatively easy to find these using social media, Google, and the media outlets’ websites.
LinkedIn and Twitter are good places to start because you can search for specific journalists directly, or even search for all the journalists at a particular media outlet. Many list their direct email address right on their profile. And often, a journalist’s email address can be found on the website of the media outlet they work for as well.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you may have to resort to Google, but it will likely take a fair amount of digging. Some of the types of media outlets (and journalists at those outlets) you’ll want to compile include:
- Local TV news networks
- Local talk radio stations
- Your city’s local Business Journal
- Local newspapers
- Other local media outlets (likely smaller digital publications)
- Real estate trade publications
You can include larger, national media outlets as well, but I suggest starting with local outlets to build a strong presence first.
Craft your core positioning statement
Your core positioning statement is essentially a distillation of what you do, who you are, and why you do what you do. It’s a concise and emotion-packed statement that tells people why they should care what you have to say.
We use this in the press kits we create for our clients, as well as on their press page, and in some cases, we will use it as part of a pitch.
Crafting this is a blend of art and science.
We open with a brief statement about the value that doing what you do brings to your clients.
Then we segue into how a particular challenge put you on that path, followed by how you solved that challenge, and then how that positively impacted the people you serve. And finally, a closing statement that reiterates the value you provide.
Here’s an example of one we wrote for a fictional Realtor:
Joe Schmoe is a Realtor who specializes in serving the unique needs of military families so they can stay focused on their mission.
When he was given orders to a new duty station while serving in the Marine Corps, Joe learned firsthand that while most Realtors had the best of intentions, they simply didn’t understand the intricacies of buying and selling a home for service members.
Once he got out, he made it his personal mission to solve that problem for his fellow service members, and today, he serves active duty service members moving into or out of the Tampa Bay Area.
Joe brings his unique insight to every real estate transaction, so they run smoothly, despite the challenging and unusual circumstances that come with service members moving.
This is useful whether you end up using it or a part of it in a pitch because it helps you to refine who you are and why people should listen to what you have to say.
Write your pitch
Your subject line is the most important part of your pitch because it determines whether it gets opened or not, but you should write this part last.
So let’s start with the body of your pitch.
You’ll want to open with a single, emotionally charged sentence. It might be a statement or a question depending on your situation, but ideally, should include a statistic. The more shocking, the better.
Then, in your next paragraph, segue into how this impacts their audience. This should be concise and impactful. I generally aim for two or three sentences here.
Next, in a new paragraph, explain in two or three sentences why you are uniquely qualified to share your expertise on the topic.
And finally, include a call to action in your final paragraph, which should be no longer than one sentence.
In some cases, depending on your circumstances, it may make sense to include all or part of your core positioning statement in your pitch. This comes down to the angle of the pitch, the topics covered by that media outlet, the general tone of the content there, and other topics currently in the news, among other factors.
Here’s an example of one we wrote for a fictional Realtor:
Tampa’s January home sales have declined a shocking 24.4 percent compared to December 2022, and climbing interest rates mean a likely continued decline in the coming months, making it harder to sell a home here.
What does this mean for sellers? Will they be able to sell their homes without losing money? Will this problem last? How should they position their homes differently? What costly mistakes might a seller make in this environment?
I’m Sarah Smith, a top listing agent in Tampa and author of the book, “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the Tampa Bay Real Estate Market,” and the data shows me that homeowners need to know 3 things before they sell a house in this market or they could risk losing tens of thousands of dollars.
- Thing one
- Thing two
- Thing three
If this is a topic your audience would like to hear about, let me know, and I’ll make arrangements for an interview.
Send your pitch
Send each pitch, individually, directly from your own email account. Do not put the email addresses from your media contacts into a bulk email system like Active Campaign, Infusionsoft, Hubspot or any other platform. Don’t get me wrong — these are great for other purposes, just not this one. This is important because each pitch should be tailored for the recipient.
Also, when a pitch comes from a bulk email platform, two other problems can pop up.
The first is that it can cause deliverability problems because of the activity from other less ethical users on that platform. This means your emails may not even arrive in the recipient’s inbox.
The second is that it feels impersonal; it feels like yet another marketing message, and we all know how we feel when we receive those kinds of messages.
A quick note on follow-up: If a story is truly breaking news, it’s OK to follow up in a day or two, but the vast majority are not breaking news, so one week is a better window. If you haven’t received a response by then, it’s probably not a fit, and you should move on.
Build and nurture relationships with media contacts
Let’s get the bad news out of the way — most of your pitches, especially in the beginning, will go nowhere. That doesn’t mean your pitch sucked, nor does it mean the recipients didn’t think you were qualified. More than likely, they just didn’t see it, it wasn’t a fit for their editorial calendar, they were buried with other stories that were assigned to them or any number of other more benign reasons.
And you also have to remember another critical factor: They have no idea who you are yet. So after that first pitch, be sure to build and nurture a relationship with them.
That doesn’t mean being creepy and emailing them every day. Instead, take a more subtle approach and engage with their content on social media regularly. And, when relevant, send them new pitches from time to time, but don’t go overboard. Once a month is sufficient in most cases, assuming it’s not just the same thing over and over.
Over time, they will begin to recognize your name, making your pitches more likely to be opened.
Remember this in all of your interactions though — people in the media are just like you. They’re often overworked, underpaid and their inboxes are filled with messages from people who want something from them. So that personal touch can go a long way in not only helping you get featured but also making them feel valued.
Jeremy Knauff is the founder of Spartan Media, a speaker, author and Marine Corps veteran.